Tags: liver | glutathione | cancer | naringenin

Save Your Liver With Medicinal Plants

By Wednesday, 24 June 2015 03:10 PM Current | Bio | Archive

To get the maximum benefit from medicinal plants, there are certain things you need to know.

For example, some plant chemicals — such as curcumin and quercetin — are poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

Others can enter the bloodstream, but cannot get past certain tissue barriers, such as the protective blood-brain barrier. Food absorbed from our intestines heads straight to the liver for detoxification and alteration that makes the chemicals in the food more useful to the body.

Many chemicals absorbed from our food are actually radically changed into metabolic products in the liver.

This is not all bad, as studies have shown that often the metabolic product is even more powerful than the original compound. This is true for the majority of the plant extracts called flavonoids and carotenoids — especially the antioxidant forms and anticancer molecules.

Purity is also a concern with medicinal plants. Many commercially grown foods are heavily contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides as well as hundreds of industrial products floating around in the atmosphere.

Like the chemicals in foods, they are detoxified in the liver, and some of these chemicals are altered to form new, powerful cancer-causing chemicals.

For example, some pesticides are changed by the liver from a mild cancer-causing chemical into very powerful cancer causers.

We also see this phenomenon with certain drugs.

For example, acetaminophen is converted to a very toxic compound that can destroy the liver and kidneys. In this form, it also severely depletes one of the cell’s most important protective molecules — glutathione.

In fact, this commonly used drug is the leading cause of liver destruction, increasing the necessity for liver transplants even when it is used in recommended doses.

The good news is that naturally occurring compounds in plants actually impair the system in the liver responsible for converting acetaminophen into that destructive chemical.

That is, the plant flavonoids and other compounds prevent the drug from becoming poisonous.

Grapefruit contains such a protective chemical, which is called naringenin. Therefore, eating grapefruit can reduce the damage done by acetaminophen.

Grape flavonoids (myricetin and quercetin) have a similar effect, and other flavonoids in foods can prevent many weak carcinogens in the environment from being converted into more powerful carcinogens.

The liver’s detoxification system consists of a series of enzymes within two major cleansing systems — called phase 1 and phase 2. Natural plant compounds tend to suppress the phase 1 system and stimulate phase 2, which is the best way to prevent weak environmental carcinogens from being converted to strong ones.

The most powerful protection from toxic chemicals happens in the phase 2 system. Many flavonoids and some vitamins stimulate the phase 2 system, making it more efficient.

Meanwhile, some plant compounds, such as naringenin, are such powerful inhibitors of phase 1 detoxification that they can interfere with the metabolism of prescription drugs and even caffeine.

Eating a lot of grapefruit can extend the effects of caffeine by several hours.

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Many chemicals absorbed from our food are actually radically changed into metabolic products in the liver.
liver, glutathione, cancer, naringenin
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 03:10 PM
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